The past two weeks have seen millions of Americans suffering under the icy onslaught of winter storms brought to us by global warming. Downed trees and power-lines, snowdrifts and white-out conditions have tried the tempers and skills of winter travelers across the entire northern half of the country.
In response, workers from county road departments, power companies, and rescue teams have been burning the midnight oil to restore America's highways and utilities to their normal state of efficiency. New England electrical crews have been working 19-hour days since an ice storm ten days ago.
Except, that is, in Seattle, as the Seattle Times reports:
To hear the city's spin, Seattle's road crews are making "great progress" in clearing the ice-caked streets. But it turns out "plowed streets" in Seattle actually means "snow-packed," as in there's snow and ice left on major arterials by design. "We're trying to create a hard-packed surface," said Alex Wiggins, chief of staff for the Seattle Department of Transportation. "It doesn't look like anything you'd find in Chicago or New York."
No, Seattle probably does not look like Chicago or New York. In those cities, the public works departments still cling to the antiquated idea that clearing the roads involves, you know, clearing the roads.
Nothing so old-fashioned for environmentally conscious Seattle! There, crews perform their jobs by simply watching the snow pack down into ice, then spreading some sand on top for traction.
What about using salt to melt the ice, like the entire rest of the Northern Hemisphere? The ever-dutiful Mr. Wiggins explains,
"We decided not to utilize salt because it's not a healthy addition to Puget Sound."
Too bad that his area of expertise lies in politically correct ecology and not Native American History; the ancient tribes' name for that body of water was WulcH, which in their language of Lushootseed means - wait for it - salt water!
Mr. Wiggins assures us that, if you are in a four-wheel-drive vehicle or front-wheel-drive car equipped with chains, you should be all set. This comes as cold comfort to the Seattle Police Department, equipped with rear-wheel-drive police cruisers now rendered useless.
Let's look at the big picture. The local gendarmerie, forcibly freed from their vehicles, must now pursue criminals over hill and dale on foot, doubtless working off all those doughnut pounds and improving their heart rates. After all, we are told, America is plagued with obesity; what better solution than hours of manly exercise in the bracing winter weather? At least the thick layer of snow somewhat pads the frozen concrete from the inevitable slips and falls.
Here again, devout greenery provides a solution to yet another national problem, that of escalating health care costs. The bulk of government medical money is spent at the end of life. If the injured and aged in Seattle expire alone, waiting for ambulances that cannot come, think of the money saved!
Speaking of savings, not just police cars are languishing in garages. UPS has discontinued service, as have other trucking companies. Traffic is reduced to the very few vehicles suitably equipped.
Think of the carbon not emitted, rhapsodize over the smog not produced! Seattle must be enjoying the clearest and most pristine air in years, if you're alive to breathe it.
Of course, commerce has all but ground to a halt with record numbers of road accidents and the State Police begging travelers to, well, not to. Yet more harmful emissions and energy use avoided!
So we see human fatalities, wrecked economies, and freedom hampered, all to prevent salt from going into a sound that is already full of salt water.
Seattle may be a Winter Wonderland - if you're Al Gore or one of his acolytes, and particularly if you live elsewhere than there. For anyone actually stuck in Seattle under the enlightened administration of Mr. Wiggins' new and improved highway department, it's a frozen hell.